Week 15 Preview: Vikings at Bears — December 20, 2021

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Week 15 Preview: Vikings at Bears — December 20, 2021

Chicago Bears

The Bears limp into this one at 4-9 with not much to play for except, well, really nothing.

Chicago has a whopping 16 players and coaches on the COVID reserve list. And unless something changes between now and when inactive players are announced, the entire starting secondary is out for tonight’s contest with the Vikings. It would be fun to see the Bears somehow pull out a win over the Vikings and spoil their chances at a wild card berth. But again, the entire secondary, two offensive tackles, a starting wide receiver, and two coordinators are all out for this one.

So, this guy might have an absolutely BONKERS game:

Of course, it’ll be on national television too.

Four more games…

“Never Tell Me The Odds”

The DraftKings SportsBook lists the Bears (4-9) as 6.5-point underdogs against the Vikings (6-7). Over/under: 45.5. More on the odds and ATS picks here.

Series History:

The Minnesota Vikings lead the Chicago Bears 61-57-2 in the all-time series between the two storied rivals. But the Bears have won five of the last six games against the Vikings.

Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:

Location: Soldier Field

Broadcast Info: Monday, December 20 at 7:15 CT on ESPN-TV and ABC-7 in Chicago (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick, Lisa Salters), WBBM-AM 780 and WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Mark Grote), Westwood One (Kevin Harlan, Kurt Warner)

Officials: Scott Novak (referee)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

CHICAGO BEARS (4-9, 2-2 NFC North)
231 (17.8 PPG, 28th)
332 (25.5 PPG, 24th)

•   QB Justin Fields
•   RB David Montgomery
•   WRs Darnell Mooney, Damiere Byrd, Jakeem Grant Sr.
•   TE Cole Kmet
•   LT Teven Jenkins, LG Cody Whitehair, C Sam Mustipher, RG James Daniels, RT Elijah Wilkinson

Unavailable: RB/PR Tarik Cohen, QB Andy Dalton, WR Allen Robinson II, TE Jesse James, OT Jason Peters, RB Ryan Nall

•   DT Akiem Hicks, NT Eddie Goldman, DE Bilal Nichols
•   OLBs Robert Quinn, Trevis Gipson
•   ILBs Roquan Smith, Alec Ogletree
•   CBs Kindle Vildor, Thomas Graham Jr.
•   FS Deon Bush
•   SS Teez Tabor

Unavailable: LB Danny Trevathan, LB Khalil Mack, LB Cassius Marsh, CB Jaylon Johnson, CB Artie Burns, CB Duke Shelley, CB Xavier Crawford, S Tashaun Gipson Sr., S DeAndre Houston-Carson, DE Mario Edwards Jr. LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB Sam Kamara

•   Cairo Santos (kicker), Pat O’Donnell (punter, holder), Patrick Scales (long snapper), Jakeem Grant Sr. (kick and punt returns)

Expected Starters and Lineups:

 344 (26.5 PPG, 9th)
333 (25.6 PPG, 25th)

•   QB Kirk Cousins
•   RB Dalvin Cook
•   WRs Justin Jefferson, KJ Osborn
•   TEs Tyler Conklin
•   LT Christian Darrisaw, LG Ezra Cleveland, C Garrett Bradbury, RG Olisaemeka Udoh, RT Brian O’Neill

•   LEs D.J. Wonnum, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, NT Michael Pierce, RE Tashawn Bower
•   WLB Nick Vigil, MLB Eric Kendricks, SLB Anthony Barr
•   LCB Patrick Peterson, RCB Kris Boyd
•   FS Xavier Woods, SS Harrison Smith

•   Greg Joseph (kicker), Jordan Berry (punter, holder), Andrew DePaola (long snapper), Ihmir Smith-Marsette, K.J. Osborn (kick and punt returns)

Three Bears

Justin Fields gets to face the Minnesota Vikings’ 25th ranked defense tonight, but he’ll be doing it with both of his starting tackles out and Allen Robinson II. Fields looked all right in the losing effort against the Packers on Sunday Night Football last week. Still, he’ll have to be better tonight in what will probably be a shootout between two bad defenses (and a Bears defense with no healthy starters in the secondary).

Am I starting to get concerned with Justin Fields yet? No, I’m not even close to being there. But I’m not going to pretend that he’s played well this season. I need to see more from the rookie quarterback these final four games.

Roquan Smith checks into tonight’s game with 130 tackles on the season and 492 career tackles, which means it’s possible that Smith can pass Brian Urlacher’s total tackles in his first four seasons (510) with a 19-tackle performance. Sure, it’s probably more likely that Smith eclipses Urlacher’s 510 when the Bears visit the Seahawks next week, but it’s something to watch for on a night when there won’t be much else to care about on the defensive side of the ball.

You can read more about Smith’s pace through his first four seasons compared to Brian Urlacher here:

“David Montgomery is the backbone of this offense for the time being. If all goes well, Justin Fields will takeover within that role shortly, but for now, the Bears offense marches to the beat of David Montgomery’s drum.”

That’s how I started the David Montgomery portion of ‘Three Bears’ last week, and we can pretty much rinse and repeat the same this week as nothing has changed. Feeding Monty the ball and winning the time of possession battle will go a long way in making sure that Justin Jefferson doesn’t rack up 250 receiving yards against the MASH unit secondary that the Bears will run out there tonight. Feed Monty, please, for the love of all things holy.

But, of course, there’s this:

Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.